Condom commercials will soon be coming to KABC-AM (790), making it the first radio outlet in Southern California to accept the controversial advertising.
In a surprise announcement during the Michael Jackson talk show Wednesday, KABC General Manager George Green said that the all-talk station will accept condom ads immediately if the emphasis is placed on AIDS prevention and not birth control.
Green made the announcement in response to a plea from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles), who had been speaking earlier in the show with Jackson about the AIDS epidemic. As chairman of the House energy and commerce subcommittee on health, Waxman heard testimony Tuesday in Washington from broadcasters who said all three major television networks--including ABC--had established policies against carrying such advertising.
But Green said that the network prohibition apparently does not extend to radio. While Waxman was still on the air, Green called Capital Cities/ABC headquarters and cleared the request to advertise condoms. Then he walked into Jackson's studio with the announcement shortly after 10:30 a.m.
"Maybe this is symbolic," Green told The Times, following his announcement, "because I think it may make a lot of stations in Los Angeles--especially the ones that target 18- to 24-year-olds--do the same thing."
KPWR-FM (105.9) and KIIS-FM (102.7)--respectively, the first and second most popular stations in Los Angeles as measured by the quarterly Arbitron ratings--may accept condom advertising if it is offered, according to station spokesmen. Both stations targets a teen and young adult audience.
KABC, which is third in the Arbitrons, hasn't received any advertiser requests from condom retailers or manufacturers yet, but, said Green:
"I think it's going to happen. I think it's going to explode in the next three months."
He joked that "if we don't (get advertising spots), we'll sell our own: EGBOK condoms."
(EGBOK is the station's own ad line--an acronym for "Everything's Gonna Be O.K.")
Green said the AIDS concern is reflected in KABC's older audience as much as it is among younger radio listeners.
"AIDS is not something that is strictly associated with teen-agers. Our 35-plus audience is affected as well. Some woman in her 30s, recently divorced, called in this morning and told us she bought her first box of condoms," he said.
Jackson asked Green on the air whether the station had any fear of fallout from those who might be against birth control, but Green sidestepped that issue.
"I think the emphasis should be on health rather than sexuality," Green said.